Dalli wants Juncker to take action on Kessler

Controversy still dogs former EU commissioner after New York Times published details of OLAF report into ‘Ponzi-style scheme’, but John Dalli claims Giovanni Kessler is hitting back over Brussels defamation case

John Dalli: the former EU commissioner is still the subject of an OLAF investigation into his involvement in an investment scheme
John Dalli: the former EU commissioner is still the subject of an OLAF investigation into his involvement in an investment scheme

The former European Commissioner, John Dalli, has said he has written to Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker “requesting action” against the EU’s anti-fraud office’s (OLAF) director.

Dalli on Friday evening claimed that a report by the New York Times of an OLAF investigation into a Ponzi-style scheme in which he has been implicated, was fed by the agency’s director, Giovanni Kessler, as the latter started facing defamation proceedings against him by Dalli, in Brussels.

Dalli has sued Kessler and the Swedish company Swedish Match for defamation, with judicial procedures starting this week in the Brussels court on the strength of a police investigation that started back in December 2012.

Dalli resigned from the EC that same year under accusation by OLAF that he had been aware of an attempt to solicit a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match – which instigated the OLAF investigation – to repeal an EU-wide ban on the sale of snus smokeless tobacco.

On Friday, the New York Times published details of the OLAF investigation in which US investors lost money entrusted to an associate of John Dalli, saying the case was still under investigation in Malta.

Dalli protested that the report was timed after a court hearing in Brussels where his lawyer filed a petition so that the examining judge in Brussels intensifies his investigation.

But Kessler still enjoys immunity of prosecution. “The Commission’s obstruction of the investigation by not lifting the immunity of OLAF staff and only partially lifting the immunity of Kessler has prevented the Belgian Police from making the investigation that they would have wanted,” Dalli said in a statement on Friday evening.

Dalli accused Kessler of having used the Times’s staff in Brussels to report details of the OLAF report that was sent to the European Commission and the Maltese attorney general in November 2016. “OLAF have refused to give me a copy because they said it is confidential,” Dalli said.

Dalli also claims the OLAF investigation is a “global fishing expedition” that drew a blank “and with the help of people of dubious character, unleashed an attack on my daughters with the intention of implicating me in some wrongdoing.”

Dalli’s daughters, the former commissioner said, acted as service providers to the Malta company that was sued in the investment scheme.

But both Dalli and his daughter had also travelled to Bahamas with Mary Eloise Corbin Klein, widely regarded as the con artist who encouraged investors to put their money into a gold mining scheme.

OLAF investigation

Giovanni Kessler (back) in Malta, where he gave testimony on the OLAF bribery investigation, in the case brought against Silvio Zammit
Giovanni Kessler (back) in Malta, where he gave testimony on the OLAF bribery investigation, in the case brought against Silvio Zammit

According to the New York Times, the OLAF findings implicated Dalli, 68, to a Ponzi-like scheme that duped investors of at least $1.5 million. Dalli was said to have told the Times that the case was “fomented by Kessler. A false report has been sent to the Malta police which has been investigated, O.K., and nothing has come out of it.”

According to the victims of the alleged fraud scheme who spoke to the Times, retiree Regina L. Hayes transferred $75,000 from her savings to an investment fund, which she thought was helping Christian miners in Africa fend off competition from conglomerates. She was promised a return of 10% a year.

Investigators allege that trips that Dalli had made to the Bahamas in 2012 – made while he was still Commissioner – were related to this Ponzi-style scheme, nicknamed Gold Pool, led by Eloise Corbin, an American who lives in Malta. Investigators say Dalli and Corbin travelled together in 2011 and 2012 to a German health spa, and spent time together at a villa in the Bahamas, where he benefited from the use of an $8,000-a-month beachside villa that was not declared to the European Commission.

The investors thought their money was going to an entity called Tyre Ltd, which reported trading gold. Dalli’s daughters served on the board of the company, and its registered address was the same as a consultancy run by Dalli at his Portomaso office in St Julian’s.

During a visit to the Bahamas, Corbin was said to have introduced Dalli to Michael D. Brady, a founder of a Tea Party branch in South Carolina, as her business partner and as a European commissioner, and that “gave credibility to her and the whole investment scheme” – Brady wrote in an email.

“We were also told that these miners were Christian and for that reason were being pushed out by the larger miners,” Brady said.

Corbin would take a percentage of the profits to help orphans in the Philippines, and it would be a “legal and safe alternative to the stock market.”

Another investor, James B. Geiger, who lives in Alabama and who invested $600,000, told European investigators that the “fact that John Dalli as EU commissioner was involved gave me the trust” he needed.

Janie B. Moore said she invested $409,000, which she described as her life savings, and never received a dividend and recovered only $7,200 of her investment.

‘OLAF breaches confidentiality’

Con-artist Mary Eloise Corbin Klein has been investigated by the Maltese police
Con-artist Mary Eloise Corbin Klein has been investigated by the Maltese police

Dalli on Friday accused OLAF of having breached their obligation for confidentiality, by accusing it of having divulged contents of the report to the New York Times.

In a reference to the Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Dalli also accused her of being an accomplice of Giovanni Kessler, saying the Times’s reports had rehashed Caruana Galizia’s reports on the con-artist Mary Eloise Corbin Klein.

“It reveals the malicious and criminal bad faith of Kessler who repeats calumnies and lies even when he would have been told that he was wrong. After sending his report, Kessler had a meeting with the Malta police in Brussels to press upon them the importance that they take action against me. 

“They must have told him that: they had already investigated thoroughly this case before he sent his report, as it was reported to them by perjurer Michael Brady in April 2015; his report had no additional information as it was only reproducing the report they had received; they must have told him that they confirmed that I was in no way involved; they could have told him that my daughters who were simply a service provider lost money also in this operation – a far cry from being part of any fraud.

“Kessler, comfortable in his immunity, believes that he can slander anybody with impunity,” Dalli said. “This is not only wrong, it is extremely dangerous, and it is not tenable that anyone in that mindset is kept in positions where one can destroy citizens’ life at will.”

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